Families. In. Global. Transition.
Take a look at each of those words individually. I am curious: which one or ones are the reasons you attended or are thinking to attend the annual Families in Global Transition conference?
I have looked at each of those words separately and have considered which one of the four is the reason why I have attended the Families in Global Transition conference for the past three years.
My first FIGT conference was three years ago in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. I attended the one last year in The Hague, The Netherlands, and the one this year also in The Hague. Every year I’ve shown up with a different identity and with an entirely different research presentation.
Every year, I have been in a very different transition compared to the one I was in the year before.
Over the past three years, I have moved six times in three countries and five cities. I graduated from American University with my second Masters degree, completed a summer intercultural communication and personal leadership course, held three jobs, and co-founded a business. I have delivered over 30 presentations – both virtual and in person – and have become a co-chair of a global nomad member interest group at NAFSA. In a word, my life has been about:
In 2016, I attended the FIGT conference with the identity of graduate student presenting research on the intersection between retirement and reentry for global families to their passport country. Having observed my parents go through this exact process the year before after living a global life for 40+ years, I spent my last semester of graduate school collecting data and stories about global families’ experiencing their new-found retirement. I’ll post the report in the Academic Section of this blog platform.
In 2017, I attended the FIGT conference as an expat English language instructor in Poland. I presented my “single expat story” during the ignite/lighting speech part of the conference. This platform allowed me to share my perspective of the challenges and opportunities for a single adult living abroad. Again, personally, I was in a transition phase in life trying to find my path after graduate school
This year, 2018, I attended the FIGT conference as an independent consultant with Intercultural Transitions and led two presentations in The Hague: one as the Millennial Forum discussant leader and one as the Adult Third Culture Kid panel facilitator. These two leadership opportunities provided platforms for me to transition from my previous FIGT identities into one that I finally feel will stick around awhile: scholar-practitioner – that is, I conduct research and then implement it either through my own writing or own presenting. In other words, I help others:
And this brings me to my perspective about how FIGT can
From my three year experiences at the conference, the main focus of the attendees has been on the word Families. I get it. That’s why the organization was founded; to provide resources and research to families about how to successfully navigate a life overseas. This focus shouldn’t change. But I think there needs to be a shift in the nature of the conference itself.
Attending the conference feels like a family reunion. This year, I felt like I was seeing my older sisters present on their bad-a$$ consultancies and businesses. I felt like I was sharing both my professional and personal news to my inquisitive aunts (they were curious about my love-life even). And, I felt like I was introducing my friends (my first time attendee panelists) to my extended relatives I haven’t seen in a year. It is a cosy and secure feeling at this conference. I felt the support and the space to be vulnerable.
I even call one couple at the conference my FIGT parents. They made my attending the conference financially possible. They are my adopted FIGT parents and I love them so much! I am so grateful for their support and their belief in my vision. They told me, “Your voice needs to be heard at the conference. You need to be a part of the conversations.”
This conference is fondly called by many, “a reunion of strangers.”
But family, in my opinion it’s time to transition a bit, to pivot a little in our perspective and our approach of this “reunion.” Of this annual meeting. We need to in a word:
And over the past three years, I have seen the beginning of this transition.
- We need to invite others to our transition table.
- We need to be intentional about gate-keepers who can provide funding for transition seminars.
- We need to dig deep into transition research. I’m talking about peer reviewed research. Not “I’ve got a hunch” research.
- We need to make our reach broader.
- We need to diversify.
I had someone tell me at this most recent conference that they felt “left out” because they didn’t know the family as well as I did. They observed the hugs and smiles and inside jokes. And felt that they weren’t a part of the family reunion.
We need to take heed to this perception.
- Transition to hold more seats at the table.
- Transition to connect with as many as we can at the conference.
- Transition to a network that goes beyond the family unit. To the units that operate outside our family unit.
- Transition from privilege.
- Transition from inside/outside.
There is no doubt in my mind that we are on that track.
We need to remember that transition takes time.
Let’s not beat ourselves up that we haven’t arrived there. Let’s celebrate the 20 years this organization has grown and empower each other to expand it.
Thank you for making membership affordable for us millennials in transition. Thank you for giving us a platform. Thank you for giving us the space to share our perspectives. Thank you for asking for our input. Thank you for listening to us about how the family can diversify.
I look forward to seeing you all next year.
Oh, and family, since we’ve gone there in our conversations, I wouldn’t be opposed with you playing matchmaker for me. I would like to transition into a partnership. And perhaps, within the next few years, arrive with Family being the most significant word to me at the Families in Global Transition conference.